Time to stop building cities without souls – China Daily

At his first sight of Las Vegas, a Chinese student of community participation in urban development remarked, “I feel as if I am back in Beijing’s second ring road!”

Indeed, the shadow of the American casino capital looms large over Beijing and many other Chinese cities, which vie with one another in copying the model of Las Vegas to become a mixture of something of everything.

With a messy combination of bits from New York City, Paris, Italy, Egypt and others, Las Vegas could satisfy a fancy of the wonderland.

Yet the city in the wild desert is a nightmare for urban planners, as it has developed with little planning. Even though Las Vegas hosted the centennial convention of the American Planning Association (APA) in late April, many American planners dismiss it as a good example of urban development.

To their regret, however, Las Vegas becomes a role model for too many Chinese cities in their drive for urban development. Like Las Vegas, these cities with entirely different cultural and socioeconomic contexts are sprawling ever wider with ever more and taller high-rises, until they become jungles of cement.

Perhaps the decision-makers and designers of Chinese cities should come to such a consensus. They should learn from the culture and traditions of their own cities before they set out to borrow others’ experiences. If they fail to develop a taste for the treasures under their eyes, it is doubtful that they can pick out something valuable elsewhere.

Read more at the Source: China Daily – to stop building cities without souls by Xiong Lei

Designs of Calgary’s New World-Class Science Centre Unveiled

CALGARY, April 21 /CNW/ – TELUS World of Science – Calgary today proudly unveiled designs of Calgary’s new, world-class science centre. It will be located on a 15-acre parcel of land just north of the Calgary Zoo.

“This building was designed for Calgarians and southern Albertans. They’ve told us what they want in a science centre and we are delivering on those requests,” says Bill Peters, Chief Project Officer, New Science Centre 2011 Project. “We are very proud of the designs, what will result from them, who they will serve and what they will represent.”

Source:  2008 Canada Newswire Ltd Designs of Calgary’s New World-Class Science Centre Unveiled.

For Urban Tree Planters, Concrete Is the Easy Part – New York Times

“It’s not unusual for people to say they don’t want it,” said Mr. Simpson, the “it” referring to whatever tree the city has resolved to plant in a swatch of sidewalk or other public space. Mr. Simpson is privy to some of those objections because he works for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, one of 40 or so foresters helping to execute Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s million-tree initiative, a plan the mayor announced (one year ago this week) to blitz the city’s five boroughs with a million trees by the year 2017.

Sometimes the residents or homeowners are worried about their allergies (though the trees are intended to help alleviate asthma and allergy rates citywide); sometimes they’re worried that a branch will fall on their car (a call to 311 will procure a free pruning). Sometimes they’re worried about the extensive construction required to plant a tree in a patch of concrete.

Read more at the SOURCE: New York Times – For Urban Tree Planters, Concrete Is the Easy Part – .

Tianjin Eco-City Masterplan to be launched next week

COULD Singapore spark the green revolution in China, a country recently named in a University of California report as the world’s “biggest polluter”?

This possibility is being raised as the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City — the first collaboration of its kind between Singapore and Beijing since the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) in 1994 — takes off.

Using the lessons from the Housing and Development Board’s 48 years of experience, the planners have opted for a practical approach in the quest to convert the wetlands and rivers of the site — 150 km from Beijing — into a city that is the model of sustainable development.
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The best ideas of both countries will go into developing the 30-sq-km site into a living space for 350,000 residents in 10 to 15 years’ time, with schools, housing areas, commercial and industrial services.

“We don’t want it to be a laboratory experiment because ‘cutting edge’ suggests that it cannot be replicated elsewhere,” said Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan as he unveiled the key features of the draft master plan on Tuesday.

Indeed, the experiment will in turn provide lessons for Singapore. “We are learning from each other but will take the higher of the two standards and try to implement it here,” said Mr Mah.

The plan is spearheaded by the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute, and a Singapore planning team led by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Development will be headed by a joint venture between a Singapore group led by Keppel Corporation and Chinese companies.

When completed circa 2023, each block in the eco-city will conform to green building standards to ensure efficient energy use. Renewable energy sources such as solar power will be available, while an efficient public transport network of light rail trains and buses will be in place, alongside extensive cycling and footpaths to discourage motorised transportation.

Like the SIP project, the Tianjin Eco-City is expected to deepen bilateral ties and “provide new platforms for leaders, officials and business people to engage each other”, said Mr Mah.

The Tianjin Municipal Government will release the master plan for public consultation next week. Work has commenced on the 3-sq-km start-up area to be completed in three to five years’ time.

Source: TODAYonline – This eco-city to show the way By Zul Othman
zul@mediacorp.com.sg

Hungry Mile wasteland warning

THE man advising New York on how to revamp its public spaces has slammed the NSW Government’s plan for the former Hungry Mile site, warning it will become “fearsome at night” and a “wasteland” on weekends and public holidays.

The Government wants to transform the historic wharves at East Darling Harbour in what it describes as the biggest urban renewal project in a generation.

Half of the 22-hectare site would become a waterside wedge of parkland and public open space. The other half would consist of residential and commercial buildings.

But the Danish urban planner Jan Gehl, who is visiting Sydney, said a lack of nearby residents, a parkland too large for its own good and a location too difficult to reach, would make the area, known as Barangaroo, dangerous and deserted.

Read more @ the Source: smh.com.au Hungry Mile wasteland warning

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